May 28, 2019
What does it take to unapologetically and intentionally show up in the world as your authentic self? How do you generate the cultural shifts required for all people to be free? These are thoughts that motivate David Johns in his leadership of the National Black Justice Coalition. David lives and works at the intersection of the Black and LGBTQ experience where these questions are fundamental to the everyday experience. He and his team advocate for public policies in housing, health, schools and criminal justice that are essential to the safety and security of African-American lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender people. And he extends his advocacy to broader networks because, as he explains, “You cannot purport to care about Black people unless you care about all Black people.” He acts on this understanding by challenging Black civil rights organizations to recognize and honor their LGBTQ members and pressing majority White LGBTQ groups to do the same for their Black constituents. In other words, he is a voice and a force for the unique needs of Black LGBTQ people. David came to NBJC after serving, during the administration of President Barack Obama, as the first executive director of the White House Initiative for Educational Excellence. In that role, he organized a series of Summits that provided a platform for African American LGBTQ youth who knew first-hand the feelings of isolation and marginalization by their schools and communities. And his policy acumen was earned on Capitol Hill, where he was a policy advisor to Senator Tom Harkin and Senator Ted Kennedy. At heart, David Johns, a true change maker, is still the kindergarten teacher he once was who passionately pursues a better future for his students.